We have a slow flowing shower drain Our bathtub and shower are
separate, with a wall between them where the faucets come out. (The
house was built in 1949) We're planning to have a plumber fix it.
Will the plumber have to get access to the access panel to do this or
can he just fix it by going down the shower drain? The access panel
is located in a bedroom closet which shares a wall with the bathtub
and shower. (back wall of bathtub and shower.)
And, what exactly is in an access panel and when would a person use
Thanks in advance.
My guess is that he will go down the drain, The access panel allows you to
get to the pipes coming up to the faucets and shower head. In general, it
is seldom needed, but darned handy to have when you do.
Access panel is mainly used to get to the faucet and feed lines, but it
is possible there may also be access to the old drum-type traps that the
drains probably have, through the same cubbyhole. How thick is the wall
between tub and shower? If there is an access panel to the side, that
implies there is actually a pipe chase big enough for plumber's arm, or
maybe even the whole plumber, to get in there.
Bonus points for whoever built your house- wet walls like that should
always have access ports.
I'd use this as an excuse to clean out the closet and make a road to the
panel anyway. On a 61 year old house, since you are paying for a house
call anyway, it is cheap insurance to have plumber use his experienced
eyes and a flashlight to take a quick look in there, if nothing else,
and tell you if anything looks funny.( Like green or white stalactites
growing from just-barely-leaking joints or anything like that.)
If just shower drain is slow, odds are it is just a hairball in the
trap. May want to ask plumber if he can fit a different screen on the
drain, that won't let as much hair go down. Then it is just a matter of
running your finger over the drain as you get out of the shower, and
moving the hairball to the trash can as you dry off. As a kid, I had
multiple long-haired sisters- I had to clean the screen BEFORE I
showered, or it would quickly get ankle-deep in there. Somehow, it never
seemed to bother them.
We also have a shower/bath with a drain that gets slow draining over
time. In our case it is due to a lack of pitch in the drain to the
stack. Slime and crud accumulate, but there is no actual blockage.
Getting a plumber with a snake eventually helps, because the snake will
get the crud moving. I usually do it myself by using a good plunger with
flowing water, after plugging the overflow hole with a wet cloth. It
isn't pretty but it works, and it is a good workout.
re: "what exactly is in an access panel..."
What's in (actually, *behind*) an access panel depends on what needs
to be accessed.
re: "and when would a person use it?"
A person would use it whenever they needed to access whatever is
behind the panel.
In my house I have 2 access panels:
One is to gain access to the tub plumbing (faucet and drain) in the
main bathroom on the second floor. It's located in the hallway at the
top of the stairs.
The other is to gain access to the dwelling's Pressure Reducing Valve.
It's located in the ceiling of the basement bathroom.
If you ask nicely, I'll tell you a neat way to trim out an access
panel in a ceiling where there is no room above it to lift it out.
P.S. My house used to have 3 access panels until I replaced the panel
used to gain access to the attic with a pull-down staircase. My point
is that it's hard to say "exactly" what's behind on access panel. They
are not just for plumbing fixtures.
I'd be interested in knowing what you did. Around here, there is a trend in
new homes to just cut a square opening in the drywall and snap in a plastic
cover panel. The panels are available in different sizes and the opening is
cut as required for the panel at hand. The panels are flat plastic on the
outside, and have 8 tabs on the inside that fit against the cut drywall,
holding the panel in place. They're used quite a bit for fire protection
valves in the bigger homes, which are installed in the garages, typically.
I've also seen them covering pressure reducers that are installed inside a
wall for thermal protection in cold areas.
The plastic snap-in panels are sure not as durable as a trimmed out and
hinged panel, but look better that a chunk of drywall scabbed over the hole.
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